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Child Enticement: What's crossing the line?

Reported by: Tyler Hill
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Updated: 7/11/2013 10:37 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA)- In recent weeks, there have been multiple stories in North Mississippi about guilty pleas in court after men faced charges of child enticement.

Those men are not alone.

It appears to be an ongoing problem, and there are stiff penalties for the crime.

With so many similar enticement cases recently, it begs the question, "Do people that commit these crimes understand the law?"

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said most do.

"Most of them realize, you know what they have done," Johnson said. "Now the excuses they come up with are very interesting."

He says that most of these cases involve predators contacting minors online through websites such as Facebook and online chat rooms.

The law states that any person who contacts a minor under the age of 18 and engages in sexual talks or activities is a violator of the law.

 "It doesn't necessarily have to go into great detail, but anytime a sexual act is mentioned, especially when using an electronic device, that is when the law is broken," Johnson explained.

He said most of these cases involve perpetrators who don't have criminal backgrounds.

"You can't pick these people out," he said. "They don't walk around with signs or look different from everyone else.  It's the people you go to church with, to school with and things of that nature."

But Johnson said once they are in custody, the excuses they make are endless.

"They were just gonna meet with this child and tell them they don't need to be doing this," he said.  "They were gonna meet with this child and tell their parents what they were doing. They were just wanting to talk to them.  It goes on and on and on."

Online chat rooms have been around since the late 1980's, and they were once the primary way to entice children online.

But with new technologies like Facebook, Skype and Facetime, it's much easier for predators to enter your home, but Sheriff Johnson said there's a way to prevent it.

"The victim is in total control," he said. "It doesn't matter what the suspect wants to do or what the suspect's intent is.  You, as the victim, are in total control.  You can cut it off at any time."

He said that people who commit sexual crimes against children are often unable to be rehabilitated.

Therefore, if convicted, they will be on the sex offender's list for the rest of their lives.

"If you don't want that mark on your head, you better think twice before you do it," he said.

Johnson said that if you or someone you know under the age of 18 is contacted via online websites, don't respond and contact law enforcement immediately.

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